2-28 Day (Formosa) Taiwan


By Kevin Anthony Stoda, Taiwan

There are many holidays in Taiwan, including regional, local, and national ones. Some change by the international calendar—others rotate on the traditional Chinese Calendar. A few years ago, as most schools and many institutions and factories were reducing the workweek from 6 days to 5 days, there were some calendar reforms here concerning holidays in the land once known as Formosa. Some traditional holidays were eliminated from the official calendar. Others were either combined or became optional holidays—much like in the USA where some states still celebrate Lincoln’s birthday while most do not. Finally, some new holidays came into being.


One of those holidays is today: February 28. It is called 228 (2-28) after a so-called “incident” that led to the deaths of anywhere from 10,000 to 30,000 Taiwanese in March 1947. Today it’s a holiday that calls on the peoples of Taiwan to really reflect on who they are how their island has historically functioned as a land quite separate from mainland China.


According to one writer, this is the background to the events in February and March 1947. “In 1945, 50 years of Japanese rule ended, and in October the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) handed administrative control of Taiwan as a province to the Kuomintang-administered Republic of China (ROC). But one year (16 months) of KMT administration led to the widespread impression that the party was plagued by nepotism, corruption, and economic failure. Tensions increased between inhabitants and the ROC administration. The flashpoint came on February 27 in Taipei, when a dispute between a cigarette vendor and an officer of the Office of Monopoly triggered civil disorder and open rebellion that lasted for days. The uprising was violently put down by the military of the Republic of China.”

In this part of the narration, the Kuomintang (KMT narration on Wikipedia) does admit that the “incident” that followed the February 27 dispute were a revolt against mainland China’s corrupt occupation of the island of Formosa after WWII.


In 1947—and thereafter—there has certainly been more than an “impression” that the KMT and its leading henchmen of that era were “plagued by nepotism, corruption, and economic failure”. Moreover, 228 or 2-28 became a buzzward to resistance against the KMT’s martial control of the land over the subsequent decades.


Online are several books on the so-called “incidents” of February 28. Here is the link to this classic, FORMOSA BETRAYED.


Regarding this important work, by George H. Kerr, “This book is a damning indictment of the KMT administration in Taiwan in the years just after World War II. It contains detailed information on Chiang Kai-shek, Chen Yi, 2-28 (the massacre of thousands of Taiwanese that began February 28, 1947), and many other subjects.”
“George H. Kerr, the author of the book, was in Taiwan during that time, serving as vice consul at the U.S. consulate.” It took the author. George Kerr, 18 years to publish this account in the USA. (Kerr was forced to leave his beloved second home in March of 1947, i.e. while the massacres were taking place.) The U.S. did not want to hear much during the McCarthy Era about how bad the Chiang Kai-Shek regime was to the millions of Taiwanese people it subjugated after the withdrawal of USA controls of the island, i.e.s as a protectorate (for the United Nations) after WWII.
Unlike the government of Japan, who had occupied Taiwan from 1895 through 1945, the incoming government of the KMT took the best for itself but left no major construction projects, like trains and railroad networks for the first few decades. Instead in the first two or three years after the war, equipment and infrastructure from Taiwan were simply schlepped back to the Mainland to the KMT’s few strongholds .
In his introduction to FORMOSA BETRAYED, Kerr’s supporters noted that after the Japanese had left their brutal occupation of the island, 80% of the Formosa (Taiwan’s) population was literate—which was the opposite of what the KMT had left conditions in mainland China like—after 30 years of power there.
Nonetheless, the KMT arrived as conquerors and rapists of the islands resources. They proceeded to run the island under martial law through the late 1980s (and the islands of Matsu where I live until 1992.)
For nearly 40 years after “the incidents”, the events of 2-28 and March 1947 remained fairly sealed.
Only in the last decades has a memorial park been created in Taipei to commemorate the so-called revolt or incident on February 28, 1947. Finally, during the prior decade, the date 2-28 began to be commemorated in Taiwan, but sadly most Taiwanese residents do not openly take this date to reflect on what there fore-fathers faced in terms of the erasing of Formosan memories from the 1950s onwards.
Meanwhile, thousands of statues and busts of the so-called founding father of the KMT—Chiang Kai Shek–remain throughout the country. The party of Chiang Kai Shek is again in power and KMT officials continue to downplay the relevance of continued apologies for the sins of their fathers.

About eslkevin

I am a peace educator who has taken time to teach and work in countries such as the USA, Germany, Japan, Nicaragua, Mexico, the UAE, Kuwait, Oman over the past 4 decades.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to 2-28 Day (Formosa) Taiwan

  1. Kevin Stoda says:

    2011 Public Holidays in Taiwan (Republic of China)


    Founding Day
    Founding of the ROC on January 1, 1912
    Saturday, 1 January 2011

    Chinese New Year’s Eve
    the last day of 12th lunar month
    Wednesday, 2 February 2011

    Chinese New Year
    (Info on Chinese New Year 2011)
    1st day to 3rd day of 1st lunar month
    Thursday, 3 February 2011 – Saturday, 5 February 2011

    Peace Memorial Day
    228 Incident on February 28, 1947
    Monday, 28 February 2011

    The Combined Holidays of Women’s Day & Children’s Day
    Will become a public holiday in 2011 as part of a campaign to increase the extremely low birth rate in Taiwan
    Monday, 4 April 2011

    Qingming Festival (Tomb Sweeping Day)
    Traditional holiday, and coincidentally also the anniversary of the passing of President Chiang Kai-shek on April 5, 1975.
    Tuesday, 5 April 2011

    Vesak / Buddha Day
    The Buddha’s Birthday
    Taiwan Buddha Birthday 2011
    Tuesday, 10 May 2011

    Dragon Boat Festival / Dragon Festival / Dumpling Festival
    5th day of 5th lunar month
    2011 Dragon Boat Festival
    Monday, 6 June 2011

    Mid-Autumn Festival / Moon Festival / Mooncake Festival / Lantern Festival
    15th day of 8th lunar month
    Monday, 12 September 2011

    Double Tenth Day
    Wuchang Uprising on October 10, 1911
    Monday, 10 October 2011

    *Tomb sweeping day, as celebrated on an individual level in Taiwan, is often varies greatly depending on ancestry. Different families will have different “Tomb sweeping days”.

  2. eslkevin says:

    Taiwan also needs a Jasmine Revolution
    By Chang Yeh-shen 張葉森 /
    Sat, Feb 26, 2011 – Page 8

    The “Jasmine Revolution” in Tunisia quickly spread to Algeria, Mauritania, Egypt and Libya, as well as Bahrain, Iran and Yemen. Despite crackdowns by police and military using tanks and fighter jets, democratic awareness among the Arabic peoples has surged as they continue to fight a long-term battle.

    The Jasmine Revolution has brought the democratic civic awareness of the Arab world more in line with the international trend toward democracy.

    Chinese Internet users have also tried to launch a Jasmine Revolution in 13 cities across China. Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) responded by ordering a tightening of Internet censorship and surveillance. The Chinese government also put hundreds of protesters under house arrest.

    Taiwan deepened its democracy, freedom, human rights and economic development to create a democratic miracle under former presidents Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) and Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁). Products made in Taiwan achieved a better reputation internationally.

    However, ever since President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) came to power in 2008, his government has acted irresponsibly despite the fact that his Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) holds a great legislative majority. Prices have skyrocketed, putting pressure on the public, while the unemployment rate has seen a sharp increase. With a government that only cares about big conglomerates, Taiwanese live in hardship with no hope in sight, and the lower class passes their poverty on to the next generation.

    The government has also weakened our national defense, as key government officials ally themselves with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) against Taiwan. It has also belittled the nation’s sovereignty. For example, Taiwan’s delegation to the Tokyo International Film Festival last year was bullied by the Chinese delegation, and taekwondo athlete Yang Shu-chun (楊淑君) was controversially disqualified during the Asian Games in China. More recently, the Philippines deported 14 Taiwanese fraud suspects to China on Feb. 2, while Ma has had nothing of merit to say.

    Meanwhile, the government has interfered with the judiciary, and used political oppression against those with dissenting views. It has replaced Taiwanese history, geography and culture with Chinese in school textbooks, and tried to eliminate the languages of ethnic minorities. It has attempted to perpetuate its rule using vote-buying, gangsters, violence and even bullets. It has encouraged Chinese students to study in Taiwan, thus threatening to limit Taiwanese students’ educational and job opportunities.

    The government has allowed politicians and big business to abuse residents in Dapu Borough (大埔) of Jhunan Township (竹南) in Miaoli County, and those who live on the land wanted for the Central Taiwan Science Park expansion project.

    The Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement will only bring disaster to this nation and her people, while further broadening the wealth gap. What is worse is that the government has allowed Chinese colonial rule in Taiwan, as low-level Chinese officials frequently visit for “inspection tours.”

    The government has shaken the foundations of democratic Taiwan, bringing it to a dead-end in which the lower class is forced to pass poverty from generation to generation.

    Taiwan’s situation today is not much better than that of the Arabic countries in the throes of the Jasmine Revolution. We must use our votes to oust Ma to save Taiwan and rebuild the country, perhaps through a “lily revolution.”

    Chang Yeh-shen is vice chairman of the Northern Taiwan Society.


    Published on Taipei Times :

  3. eslkevin says:


    228 Wrongs to be righted: A new milestone — The National 228 Memorial Museum 平反運動的新里程碑: 二二八國家紀念館
    Tue, Mar 01, 2011 – Page 13

    Yesterday marked the 64th anniversary of the Feb. 28, 1947 Incident, also known as the 228 Incident. It was also the inauguration of the National 228 Memorial Museum, thus starting a new page in the history of Taiwan. There is a saying that “the past is the key to the future.” Sixty-four years ago, racial discrimination and conflict were rampant in Taiwan; today, rather than opening old wounds for the families of victims of the 228 Incident, the establishment of the National 228 Memorial Museum tries to restore historical memory by converting sorrow into a positive force and passing down the historical significance of the 228 Incident to the next generation.


    To gain insight into Taiwan’s history, one must understand the history of the 228 Incident — the most tragic and unforgettable incident in Taiwanese history and the deepest and most painful historical wound in Taiwanese society. From being a forbidden topic during the 38 years of Martial Law to having a national museum dedicated to it, the 228 Incident clearly represents a watershed for Taiwan’s democratization process. Many books have been written on the 228 Incident, and there is also a symphonic poem, 1947 Overture, composed by Tyzen Hsiao. The overture incorporates poet Lee Min-yung’s poem Love and Peace about healing the wounds of history, and Pastor John Jyigiokk Tin’s Taiwan the Green, expressing a hope for the rebirth of Formosa.


    In 2006, the Ministry of Education initiated plans to establish a National 228 Memorial Museum on 54, Nanhai Road, and it entrusted the 228 Memorial Foundation with the museum’s management and operation. Prior to 2004, the foundation’s mission was mainly to provide monetary compensation and emotional consolation, and to restore the good names of the victims of the massacre. Between 2004 and 2007, efforts were made to make the history of the 228 Incident more accessible to the public by holding academic conferences and memorial events to commemorate the human rights victims. In 2007, the foundation shifted its mission and began focusing on fact finding, the collection of historical documents, and cultural, historical, educational, and human rights work and international academic exchanges as a long-term project. Inaugurated during Taiwan’s centennial celebrations, the National 228 Memorial Museum has signed a memorandum of cooperation with the Taipei 228 Memorial Museum, which is under the supervision of Taipei City Government’s Department of Cultural Affairs. Within walking distance of each other, the two museums will share resources, cooperate with each other, and try to avoid the repetition of content in their respective exhibitions.


    Past and present merge at 54, Nanhai Rd.


    Located at 54, Nanhai Road, the National 228 Memorial Museum maintains the Taiwanese architectural style of the 1930s. The building has played different roles throughout history and is witness to how Taiwanese history has developed.


    1. Taiwan Education Association Building

    This building was constructed in 1931, during Japanese rule, as the Taiwan Education Association Building. It was an important venue for all sorts of lectures, exhibitions, film screenings, art exhibitions, and other events. It was regarded as an important conduit between modern art in Taiwan and the rest of the world. The “Taiwan Art Exhibition,” a major annual art event in Taiwan, was held by the Taiwan Education Association, and made artists such as Chen Cheng-po, Liao Chi-chun, Yang San-lang, Yang Shui-long, Lan Yin-ding, and Lee Mei-shu famous.



    2. Taiwan Provincial Assembly

    In 1945, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government designated Chen Yi as governor of Taiwan province. It also established the Taiwan Provincial Assembly, which met in the Taiwan Education Association Building. After the 228 Incident, of the 30 provincial assemblymen, Wang Tian-deng was captured and later died, Lin Lien-tsung went missing, and Lin Jih-kao and Ma You-yueh were incarcerated. The building is therefore very significant for the story of the Taiwanese pursuit of democracy after World War II and is an important 228 Incident historical site. In 1949, the Taiwan Education Association took over the management of the building, which continued to be used for free by the Taiwan Province Provisional Assembly and later the Taiwan Provincial Assembly.



    3. The United States Information Service

    The United States Information Agency moved into the building in 1959, a year after the Taiwan Province Provisional Assembly moved out. After the US ended diplomatic ties with Taipei in 1979, the US embassy in Taiwan was transformed to the non-official American Cultural Center (ACC), and continued to hold cultural, educational, and business exchange events. By the end of 1991, the ACC moved out due to the Nanhai Renewal Project, a project that was later canceled because of protests from cultural circles who opposed its being rebuilt. The building was once rented by the Scouts of China, and then again rented by the ACC in 1993. The building was declared a third-class national historic site in the same year. The United States Information Service held official US government data and information about study in the US, and it also provided part of its office space for arts and literary exhibitions. Following the eclectic exhibitions held by the “Taiwan Education Association” during Japanese rule, in the 1960s, when information from the outside world was relatively suppressed, the center also played a role in pushing Taiwan’s arts and literary development.



    4. National 228 Memorial Museum

    The National 228 Memorial Museum, whose establishment was approved by the Cabinet in July 2006, was finally inaugurated yesterday. The historic site, filled with the traces of history, shows the changes through the years. According to Allan J. Shackleton’s book Formosa Calling, disillusioned Taiwanese people at the time would often say, “Out with the Japanese dogs, in with the Chinese pigs.” The opening of the new national museum symbolizes a wish that Taiwan will be able to “move beyond the 228 Incident and embrace democracy and human rights.”


    二零零六年七月行政院正式核定為「二二八國家紀念館」,終於於昨日正式對外開館,在這個充滿歷史軌跡的古蹟內,展出歷年的演變。讓福爾摩沙的呼喚“Formosa calling”找到出口,從暴亂中新生。根據艾倫‧詹姆士‧謝克頓寫的《福爾摩沙的呼喚》,當時失望的台灣人常感嘆,「走了日本狗、來了中國豬」。希望國家館的成立,象徵今天「走了二二八歷史心結,來了民主與人權。」

    Exhibitions and Historical Objects


    There are two exhibition areas in the National 228 Memorial Museum, one for the permanent exhibition and the other for special exhibitions. The former presents exhibition materials chronologically and reconstructs scenes from the 228 Incident through a combination of traditional and interactive digital displays. The special exhibition focuses on different periods and shows the history of the site itself. In addition to the exhibitions, there are also historical objects such as documents, files, photos, videos, publications, art works, and folk arts. People can revisit history through the exhibitions and learn the history of Taiwan’s democracy.


    “Division and Rebirth”


    Many people are certain to sympathize with the sorrow and resentment of the families of the victims of the 228 Incident. In the lyrics of a Taiwanese song If I Open My Heart to the World written in 1954, “If I open my heart to the world, I will see the glorious colors of a spring day.” Only if we face up to the past — forgive but not forget — can we restore the historical truth, escape from under the shadow of the past, and learn the lessons of the 228 Incident. Only if we transcend ethnic divides can the brand new National 228 Memorial Museum, which commemorates a painful episode in Taiwan’s history, accomplish its new mission in the new era, for the benefit of Taiwan.



    Published on Taipei Times :
    Copyright © 1999-2011 The Taipei Times. All rights reserved.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.